The Daily Grind: Do you trust companies selling ‘games as a service’?

    
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MUD and MMO players are pretty much the original victims of “games as a service” mentality. News that Nintendo is shutting down the Wii Shop, meaning nobody will be able to download digital purchases from it ever again for old Wii consoles, comes as no surprise to us, the children of innumerable MMO sunsets – there but for the grace of some bean counter or an angel investor go all our games eventually.

Will we learn our lessons? Probably not. Apparently Apple is now getting in on the GAAS bandwagon, planning a Netflix-esque sub service for bundled games access and publishing. As if being made to trust Steam and Epic and aren’t bad enough. Yay, instead of losing one game, you’ll lose a whole fleet of titles when Apple gets tired of playing at publishing and helping ensure that even single-player titles can one day meet the same fate as MMOs.

Meh. Do you trust companies selling “games as a service”? Are you as sick as I am of the term and the push to rent us video games that aren’t designed to require online service in the first place?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

 

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Jim Bergevin Jr

I don’t know if Trust is the right word or concept here. I don’t fully trust any business that I have engaged with, especially in terms of securing personal information. So, I don’t trust Steam or any other game dev/platform any more or less than any other company out there.

I think the right question should be do we like the concept of Games As A Service?

Like a few others here, I grew up along with the gaming industry. I have and always will prefer the concept of ownership of things that I buy with my hard earned money. If I go to a store and buy a kitchen set, I can do with that what I want, and the manufacturer of said set has no say in the matter of what I do with my table and chairs. I own them. When we get into things like games, music, or movies, that’s a little different. By rights I don’t own the software or coding for the game, nor do I own the creative rights to the songs or movie when I buy a physical copy of these things. However, I do own the rights to that physical media and it was mine to do with as I will, much like my furniture. We were even granted rights to make backup copies of these things to avoid disaster – like a little brother taking a magnet to my 5.25″ floppy Wizardry Master Disk.

I enjoy the concept, and the fact, that I can fire up one of my old PCs and play games that I bought 20 or even 30 years ago today. Heck, most of the developers and publishers of these games are long gone, but I can still enjoy the fruits of their labor. The only real inhibitors to this are the deterioration of the physical media and the advancement of PC technology. But with a little bit of effort, we can still bypass those roadblocks and enjoy these things we own (legally to boot!)

That has since changed with the concept of digital distribution and Always On-line Connectivity. It’s one of the reasons I shied away from MMOs until the original Guild Wars came along. I never liked the concept of having to pay a monthly fee to continue to play a game that I bought outright to begin with. But that was still limited primarily to multi-player games, and like those games of old that had a multi-player feature to it, one comes to expect that over time, that feature will no longer be usable.

Now we have these Game Services like Steam, Origin, Epic, WildTangent, etc. that offer a multitude of games on their respective platforms. I like the concept of being able to have a one stop place to shop for games. And I don’t think the Indie Development scene would be the thriving place it is today without them. But we get back to that age old concept of ownership of the things we buy. I don’t like the fact that at any moment, by ability to use and enjoy the thing(s) I spent my hard earned money on can be taken away from me pretty much on a whim. We may not own the assets, coding, or software for our games, which is perfectly understandable. But I certainly don’t like the fact that they are trying to take away our ownership of the product. We, as consumers, should at least be able to maintain that one concept and right.

Random MMO fan
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Random MMO fan

Trust? No. I do accept it because of convenience, just like with streaming movies (movies which I pay full price for, from Amazon Prime or VUDU).

Can I easily lose access to all of them if company will decide I don’t deserve it? Sure, but the convenience of downloading or streaming over a fast 1 Gb connection is too tempting, same goes for saving space on shelves or not dealing with potential issues of disks going bad or DVD drive or player going bad.

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Roger Edwards

“For no one – no one in this world can you trust. Not men, not women, not beasts… or Ubisoft or EA”.

“This you can trust”.

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NeoWolf

Its not really an isue of trust for me I don’t think more a displeasure with how such things work in general.

If I buy a game, physically or digitally to me, in my mind its MINE. period. Obviously in this day and age the realities of this are not quite so black and white in many instances with MMOs etc.. all you are really buying is access for a chunk of time to the service which is the game and some fluffy digital whatnots to go with it… you aren’t actually buying the game.

What I have always wanted is for an MMO that closes to patch it off so it can no longer be played massively anymore maybe just locally or even only solo so that when theyre done I can still keep my characters and keep playing even if only by myself (which I tend to do mostly anyway as i prefer soloing). This doesn’t tend to happen though for whatever reason, money, time, licensiing legal blurb or whatever.. but THIS is what would make me happiest.

So much time, money and effort goes into these services like MMOs that just having it yanked out from under you without being able to retain any of it is ALWAYS a difficult pill to swallow.

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Anstalt

Short answer: no, I don’t trust them.

I can understand MMOs being sold as games-as-a-service, because there is a substantial cost involved in keeping the game going and developing new content for that game, so charging a subscription is a good business model for the continued deliverance of that service.

Everything else? Fuck that. First, as you point out, it often means that single player games have been fucked with to require an online connection and that is unethical. Secondly, a big part of the reason for wanting people to subscribe is because it is easier to get money out of them. You want to play a game that is only available through a service, so you subscribe and promptly forget about it. A large portion of people stop using the service but keep paying, so the company is happy. Third, this is also a subtle way of trying to kill off the second-hand games market and keeping even more money in the publishers pockets.

So, overall, I tend to view GAAS as a quite unethical business model and a lot of extra hassle for the gamers themselves. The only people I can imagine this works out well for are game hoppers who enjoy blockbusters. Instead of having to shell out £50 a game every week, u can subscribe for much less money and get a similar experience or even more choice. You dont have to worry about a game only having 10 hours of content because u can just move onto the next game at no extra cost.

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Mr.McSleaz

Remember Sega TV from the 90’s?
You’d hook your Sega Genesis to your cable box, pay a mnthly sub & have access to 50 Games & the less popular ones would swap out each month. It was a good deal.

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

So which is it? Is software a service, or is it property? Seems like it’s a service if you’re looking for rent, but it’s property if we try to service or modify the software ourselves.

And trust isn’t a value one should apply to a corporation that holds you under a click-through contract of adhesion. You can trust them to do whatever they can get away with.

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Bruno Brito

I don’t trust companies. I make business with them, but i don’t trust them anymore than to do somewhat serious business.

Trust is something you give people you’re fond of. The rest of them, you just get carefully optimistic.

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Dug From The Earth

Here is the thing.

Im fine paying for a service. Something like netflix, or my cell phone functionality.

Games are NOT a service. Im not fine paying for them as such.

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Wilhelm Arcturus

When drawing the Netflix comparison, my brain immediately went to my oft felt pain with that service, wherein something I meant to watch or some show I was halfway through with disappears because the contract for it was up.

And, if we’re going to push the Netflix analogy for this, I guess that will mean Apple will end up having to buy/finance/produce a whole slew of “Apple Originals” in order to keep their service viable. I suppose that might be worthwhile.